A pair of foster parents in Roy, Utah, are facing child abuse charges after investigators discovered their three adopted sons living in unspeakable conditions.
According to the Deseret News, Matthew Earl Waldmiller, 40, and Diane Seifert Waldmiller, 41, were arrested late last week, and each were charged on Tuesday with three counts of child abuse.
An investigation launched earlier this month found that the Waldmillers’ three sons, ages 7 through 11, had been spending up to 13 hours a day locked in a bedroom with no light, no food or water, and no linens on their twin sized mattresses.
According to charging documents obtained by the Deseret News, the boys, who were reportedly adopted in October 2015, were routinely locked in a room overnight, with the younger boys forced to wear diapers. The 11-year-old boy described additional instances of abuse — including being stuffed in a suitcase for a month — to the investigators:
The 11-year-old disclosed that he and his brothers are given ‘night pills’ to sleep. He stated that he and his brothers have been hit with a 2×4 piece of wood on the ‘butt.’ He disclosed that Diane hits him on the nose and causes it to bleed.
He stated he is not allowed to drink after 6 p.m. He further described that he was zip tied in a ‘hog-tie’ style and put in a suitcase for a month period of time.
The other boys also reported being restrained with zip ties that functioned as handcuffs, and having duct tape placed over their eyes and mouth. One of the boys said he was forced to perform exercises in order to earn food.
Roy Police Sgt. Matt Gwynn told the newspaper the investigation began after the Utah Division of Child and Family Services received a neglect complaint on March 17 and alerted authorities.
Investigators reportedly responded right away and visited the home, where they found the three boys to be suffering from serious neglect: All three were underweight and not being properly fed.
The boys reportedly told investigators that at one point, they had escaped the bedroom though a window to go searching for food in dumpsters. Investigators told the newspaper that the parents punished them by serving them rice that was intentionally over- seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. The window the boys escaped from was locked and painted black. It was the only window in the bedroom, and the light fixture did not have a bulb.
“This was not reckless. It was not negligent,” Sgt. Gwynn told the newspaper. “This was intentional.
The Waldmillers have reportedly had an active foster care license in Utah since 2013. A 2-year-old foster child, a girl, was living in the home at the time of the arrest, and did not exhibit any signs of abuse or neglect.
“We think this might have been ‘discipline’ directed at the boys,” Sgt. Gwynn said, “but we really don’t know what the motivation behind this is.”
The Waldmillers reportedly admitted in police interviews to locking the boys in the room for an extended period, covering their faces with duct tape, and tying their wrists together with zip ties.
All four of the children, including the 2-year-old girl, have been removed from the home.